AFMC News Service 8-14-98

Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser begins production

By Jake Swinson,
Air Force Development Test Center Public Affairs
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser, or WCMD, a top-priority Department of Defense weapon program under development at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., received the nod by Pentagon officials Aug. 3 to go into initial production.

The weapon is designated as an Air Force lead and streamlined acquisition program and will cost 64 percent less than the Air Force’s original cost objective. It will be delivered five months ahead of schedule and is meeting or exceeding all of Air Combat Command’s accuracy and performance requirements.

The program resulted from operational limitations identified during Operation Desert Storm, where adverse weather, smoke and dust severely limited the pilot’s ability to accurately deliver cluster munitions from mid and high altitudes. WCMD has corrected this deficiency by turning three major cluster bomb units, or CBUs, into ‘smart’ precision-guided weapons.

WCMD is a tail kit that will attach to existing Sensor Fuzed Weapons, Combined Effects Munitions, and GATOR Aerial Delivered Mine Systems.

The kit inertially steers the munition from a known release point to precise target coordinates while compensating for launch transients, winds aloft, surface winds and adverse weather.

The kit was developed in only 51 months from initial contract award, which is less than half the time normally required to bring a major weapon into the inventory.

It was accomplished by a 20-member, hand-picked team led by Lt. Col. Steven Welch of Eglin’s Area Attack Systems program office.

"The intent of WCMD is to allow the aircraft and aircrew to fly above the anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missile threats and keep them out of harm’s way," Welch said. "It will allow the war fighter to drop the a CBU-87, -89 and -97 from altitudes up to 45,000 feet."

According to Welch, accuracy was a major problem during Desert Storm.

"The user came to us with a requirement to produce a weapon capable of achieving a circular error probable, or CEP, of 100 feet with the current family of cluster munitions," he said.

The kit is achieving an accuracy of less then 30 feet.

Welch expects to have WCMDs ready by April 1999.

"We have had the latitude to do acquisition differently," the colonel said, "and we’re now seeing the benefits of those initiatives. We have a small dedicated government and industry team who have been very successful in using commercial, off-the-shelf products and commercial business practices to yield a low cost weapon."

The WCMD family of weapons will be carried on the B-1, B-2, B-52, F-15E, F-16 and F-117.